Wed | Mar 21, 2018

Brace for Brexit backlash - Beckles

Published:Sunday | June 26, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies Sir Hillary Beckles has warned that every aspect of Caribbean life will be adversely affected by last Thursday's vote by the British to leave the European Union (EU).

"From trade relations to immigration, tourism to financial relations, and cultural engagements to foreign policy, there will be a significant redefinition and reshaping of CARICOM-United Kingdom engagements," said Beckles.

"The region's fragile economic recovery is threatened," added Beckles.


England versus the world


He argued that on reaching the limits of emotional despair over how to manage its post-imperial, ethnic nationalism, and challenged to participate in the global world as an equal partner, the English have retreated to their traditional identity base at the expense of every other consideration.

"It has taken this strategic step in order to go forward as old England versus the world. This is a desperate attempt to reinvent a still idealised past in which Englishness is celebrated as a distinct standard not to be entangled or diminished by deep association.

"The predictable, highly individualistic action poses both a short-term as well as a long-term threat to the performance of CARICOM economies, and should trigger immediate strategic regional reactions even before heads meet in Guyana next week," said Beckles.

He argued that CARICOM should use this development to deepen and strengthen its internal operations and external relations with the wider world.

"It's a moment for CARICOM to come closer together rather than drift apart. The region should not be seen as mirroring this mentality of cultural and political insularity, but should reaffirm the importance of regionalism within the global context for the future.

"Those driving the 'Leave' agenda knew very well the likelihood of broad-based negative global effects of their option, but chose to jettison external obligations, a critical feature of hyper-conservative, extreme nationalism," said Beckles.

He noted that the University of the West Indies will, this week, host a symposium as an in-depth academic reflection on the relevant themes with a view to facilitating regional action ahead of the summit of heads.

"This UK development should not be taken lightly. It should be fully researched as it constitutes an obvious structural threat to the sustainability of economic institutions in the region," warned Beckles.